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Duterte awaiting doctor’s clearance on COVID-19 vaccination

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he wants to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) but still needs the clearance of his doctor on what brand he can get inoculated with.

“In the matter of getting the vaccine, it is to my advantage. It is to my self-interest that I should get one. No doubt about it. As to what brand, ‘yan ang problema because it is left to the sound discretion of my doctor,” he said in a press briefing.

“My doctor has in mind, it’s a Chinese brand still, pero hindi ito,” he added, referring to the Sinovac vaccine that arrived at the Villamor Airbase on Sunday afternoon.

The Sinovac jab is only recommended for healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old. Duterte will turn 76 next month. 

Duque, Lorenzana rule themselves out

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also announced they will not get the Sinovac vaccine, citing their age.

"[Duque] also underscores that we will follow the prioritization framework, and will ensure that limited doses will go to the HCWs first," the Department of Health said.

"I wanted to be the first to receive the Sinovac vaccine in DND to build trust and confidence among personnel but health experts advised that those over 59 should not be vaccinated. Besides, the front liners will have first priority," Lorenzana said in a tweet.

The President said he requested for a personal supply of a particular vaccine that he did not name.

“Ako naghingi ako, personal. Wala silang stock. Nanghingi ako para sa pamilya ko pati sa akin. I do not know if we would have enough vaccines for everybody, but I think I can accommodate itong Cabinet members,” he said.

Journalist Mon Tulfo, formerly Duterte’s special envoy to China, earlier said the President wanted China’s Sinopharm vaccine but was prevented from accessing it by government officials. 

Last year, Sinopharm vaccines became the subject of controversy after Duterte himself revealed that military men received the Chinese shot even though it has not been authorized for use in the Philippines. 

The Food and Drug Administration said Sinopharm has not yet filed an application for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Leni can go first

Duterte also said Vice President Leni Robredo is better qualified to get the Sinovac jab in response to her call for him to be the first to get vaccinated in the country.

“Siya ang apurado, siya ang mauna,” he said. “She’s young, I am not. I have to defer to my doctor… Bakit dadramahin pa ‘yang sino mauna? Ako, magpabakuna. Ang problema, ang doktor ko may hinihintay.”

Robredo’s spokesman earlier said the Vice President is willing to get inoculated in public to boost trust in vaccines.  — BM, GMA News